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Ep. 8 Three common frustrations in your design biz & how to overcome them

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In todays episode I really want to cover some common frustrations that both Designers and business owners can experience. In my experience sometimes these frustrations can really hinder your ability to grow or take a lot of bandwidth to overcome or find solutions for.

And as I dive into these, you might feel a bit called out, or you might even completely disagree and that’s ok! If you are feeling triggered I ask you to think about why these topics might stir emotion and chances are it might be that these things apply to you and you might need to think about making adjustments.

So as a bit of background, I am in no way immune to getting frustrated with my business, with clients, or with myself! There has been so many times where I’ve had to really pull myself up and ask myself – why am I frustrated? How can I find a solution for this, so here are some common frustrations and my solutions to overcoming them, I hope you find value in these and this ep. really gets you thinking about your perspective and how you can shift your way of looking at frustrations and use these experiences to better yourself, your processes & your business!

Common Frustration One – Clients Ghosting

Clients or Customers ghosting you – now I see this ALOT especially as a theme across Reels where Designers are showing their reactions to clients ghosting them. As a service-based business, I’m sure you have experienced the frustration that comes with spending loads of time discussing the project, zoom calls, providing a proposal, you send these across, and then nothing, the Client drops off the face of the planet. And it has definitely happened to me as well! 

We tend to take it personally or get pissed off because the client has “ wasted so much of our time” (in air quotes) but here is my take on Clients ghosting you..

Chances are, there are 3 main reasons a Client has dropped off… Price, Time or Right Fit..

First I want you to think about your Client intake process, how can you make this more streamlined so that the Client learns more about you and can decide earlier if you are the right fit or not. Do you offer a welcome pack or a Services & Packages guide where you perhaps can show your starting prices for your most common packages? 

The reason why I offer this to my potential clients comes down to being Proactive vs. Reactive.

You can mitigate against clients ghosting you or wasting your time by providing upfront insights into where your packages start at, inside a document like a Welcome Pack, or Services and Pricing Guide – so that your potential client knows what their starting costs might be. So when you get your enquiry send a “Welcome Reply” include your Document alongside an invite to book a Discovery Call to discuss the Project further.

This way you know if you move into the Zoom Call phase, your client already understands your pricing and there is a better chance your Client won’t ghost you because your proposal was way more than they first anticipated.

Even though pricing shouldn’t be the only deciding factor for some businesses, it’s a hard fact to ignore. 

As mentioned previously, time is also another reason why a Client might drop off, either because they find out the really lack the time in working on the project with you so put it off for another time, or they want it done yesterday. 

The first issue can’t be controlled and we have to let go of this and honestly find gratitude that we didn’t begin working with a Client that isn’t organised or ready. But for the most part, I’d recommend providing general lead times and timeline overviews inside your welcome pack or even on your website to educate your potential client on what they can expect in terms of timeframes for completed Projects. Honestly, I only hold space for rush jobs of existing Clients, and even then my Clients know there is the chance I will say no because I am already booked, or they lead with ‘I know you have a 4 week lead time, please don’t hate me” so for most of my existing Client base they fully understand my boundaries and requirements when It comes to getting their Projects done on a timeline that works for both us. 

And then when it comes to the Right Fit, some prospective Clients have a particular expectation or requirement in mind and may feel like you’re not the right fit, and that is totally ok!!!

Just like we wouldnt and shouldn’t work with Clients who we know aren’t the right fit for our studio, not every designer is going to suit every client or project. 

See it as a blessing and an opportunity for dreamier clients to fill that spot on your Calendar.

Talking of dreamy clients, I have created a Freebie for you guys which is my approach to attracting dream clients, I run through a series of prompts to get you into the mindset of figuring out who you actually want to work with, and then concrete steps you can take to being attracting them, you can find it at www.byapril.co/dream-clients

So even though it can feel like a Client Ghosting you is out of your control but its really not. Find solutions to these issues at the get-go before they happen, rather than finding yourself reactive when the inevitable happens.

Common Frustration Two – Clients not being organised & projects blowing out

Ahh my pet peeve.

There is honestly nothing worse and the flow on effect when this happens can be really disruptive. It pushes back your other projects, it almost feels like a bit disrespectful that you’ve booked time into your calendar, you have organised all your behind the scenes project management software, and Pinterest boards, and all the things! And then the client just dawdles about with no urgency to getting their project completed.

Where this really annoys me, is when Clients blow out their project over the 6 month mark because as Designers we invest a lot into our own education and skillset, and in 6 months we have in most cases increased our abilities, skillset, invested in courses or whatever it might be, and now deserve to be at a higher pay grade, than 6 months ago.. Now because a Client has finally got organised, they expect the project to kick off as normal without any consideration to you as the Designer, your skills and your timeline..

So. How to overcome this…

Make it clear, in black and white what your expectations are around project finish dates, expected launch dates and highlight in BOLD what the charges and implications are for Projects that are not completed in the agreed upon timeframe and include Restart Fees – for me I add this to my Proposal Document and inside my T&C’s before the client pays their deposit. That way both myself and the client are super clear on what is expected of both of us, just like I won’t take 6 months to get their project done, I expect they will be organised and ready to hit the ground running.

Again, proactive vs. reactive.

Common Frustration Three – Vague feedback 

We all know what vague feedback sounds like… I’m just not sure, I’ll know it when I see it… Its ok, but just something isn’t right… 

This usually happens for two reasons… The client doesnt know how to give constructive feedback that is helpful to our design process…

OR

The client has no idea who their Brand is, and is looking to you to fill the gaps… 

Now I want to make this clear, as a Designer it is not your job to craft their business for them… We craft Brands, based on insights we gather. We meaning you and the client in unison via Brand Strategy sessions or something similar.

To often I see Designers work with business owners who have a cool idea, product or services, but haven’t spent the time working on their Brand Strategy – meaning they haven’t asked all the right questions about who their audience is, how they plan to position themselves, where do they see the brand in 12-18 months time, all of these questions the Business owner must be able to answer! And if they cant, then a visual identity isn’t going to solve this issue… It will only perpetuate the need for Brand Strategy.

So. In short.. Look to add Brand Strategy as a service, because for business owners who do need a lil help, this can be a way to really define the brand before even opening Illustrator.

For the later problem of clients not knowing how to provide feedback – for me I add this as a helpful guide inside my proposal document where I give an overview on how to provide constructive feedback with examples of good vs not so good feedback, so it is educating the client on how best to help move the project forward and achieve their desired results.

So they are common frustrations in business and most if not all can be mitigated by being proactive and not reactive. Of course, there will be times where clients do not read or listen, and still cause frustration, but if you have covered yourself, especially in a financial sense, these frustrations will have less impact hopefully.

I am going to wrap up this lesson, and don’t forget to head over to www.byapril.co/dream-clients to grab your free copy of my Attract your Dream Clients workbook, and till next time, by for now!